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Military group blasts ‘war crimes’ investigation of US troops by International Criminal Court

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo visits troops in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 9, 2018. (U.S. State Department)
June 04, 2020

A military organization representing families of soldiers across the globe is condemning a recent attempt by international courts to prosecute U.S. military personnel for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Military Coalition (TMC) published a letter on Monday to President Donald Trump decrying the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation, which the letter warns “could lead to the arrest, prosecution, and detention of American military personnel and veterans in foreign countries.” The United States conducted its own investigations and refused to join the ICC, the letter adds.

“More than 5.5 million current and former service members, veterans, and their families and survivors, wish to express deep concern about an effort by the International Criminal Court (#ICC) to pursue investigations of U.S. service members and associated personnel,” the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) wrote on Twitter. The FDD also published a copy of the letter in the tweet. 

The ICC is investigating the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli and British militaries for similar reasons.

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In March, ICC judges authorized the investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives. The investigation marks the first time the court’s prosecutor had been allowed to scrutinize U.S. forces.

Notably, the ICC has taken a softer stance against the Russian military, although it has more credible allegations of conducting war crimes in the region, the letter states.

“It is noteworthy that the ICC is also pursuing similar investigations against our close allies in the United Kingdom and Israel, while downplaying credible allegations related to Russia,” the letter reads.

The letter urges President Trump to “take all reasonable measures to protect Americans who have done so much to protect us” and to “protect America’s service members veterans, and families from the politically motivated and inappropriate actions of the ICC.”

Additionally, the letter notes that no U.S. president has ever asked the Senate to “provide its advice and consent to the U.S. joining the ICC.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signaled on Monday the Trump Administration’s intention to take action against the ICC for the investigation.

“You’ll see in the coming days a series of announcements not just from the State Department, [but] from all across the United States government that attempt to push back against what the ICC is up to,” he said, according to Politico.

Pompeo, who called the ICC “corrupt,” also noted that the United States is not a member of the ICC and said the court had “stumbled into a sorry affirmation of every denunciation made by its harshest critics over the past three decades.”

The ICC, according to Pompeo, was attempting to target the “young men and women of the United States of America who fought so hard … under the rule of law in the most civilized nation in the world.”

Its officials “think that the ICC ought to be able to haul these young men and women in,” he added. “We will never let that happen. We’re working along many fronts to prevent it from happening.”